im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pə-tən(t)s How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Definition of impotence

: the quality or state of being impotent: such as
a : lack of power, strength, or vigor : weakness … the growing impotence of governments in the face of corporate willfulness and regional factionalism.— Alan Wexelblat
b : an abnormal physical or psychological state of a male characterized by inability to engage in sexual intercourse because of failure to have or maintain an erection : erectile dysfunction

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Examples of impotence in a Sentence

the congressional committee's essential impotence in affecting the management of the war was frustrating to its members
Recent Examples on the Web But the protests also emerged from — and revealed — the impotence of the government. Alexey Kovalev, Star Tribune, "Something special just happened in Russia," 26 Jan. 2021 Over the centuries, Pompeii became a powerful symbol of the transience of life and human impotence when nature unleashes its power. New York Times, "Snail, Fish and Sheep Soup, Anyone? Savory New Finds at Pompeii," 26 Dec. 2020 Budgets of offices entrusted with protecting the public need to be tied to the magnitude of their oversight responsibility, not left to erode into impotence. Julie Blaha, Star Tribune, "Minnesota GOP attacks undermine checks and balances," 22 Dec. 2020 But, at a time of emergency, in which the very survival of Americans and American political institutions has been in question, the impotence of movies to make a difference is an inescapable aspect of watching and thinking about cinema. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "The Best Movies of 2020," 2 Dec. 2020 The experience provided Walker with training in coalition building and community organizing, as well as insight into the relative impotence of grantees. Elisa Lipsky-karasz, WSJ, "How Darren Walker and the Ford Foundation Reinvented Philanthropy for the Pandemic," 17 Nov. 2020 Yet in another sense, his success only reminds Europe of its own impotence, as France’s Europe minister, Clement Beaune, hinted in comments criticizing the neediness implicit in much of the elated commentary surrounding the election result. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "Donald Trump’s Defeat Costs Europe Its Bogeyman," 11 Nov. 2020 Henry’s explosive fits of rage, migraines, depression, insomnia, memory loss and possibly impotence may be explained by the lingering impact of brain injuries sustained in the 1536 accident. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Researchers Find Remnants of Jousting Field Where Henry VIII Almost Died," 6 Nov. 2020 Yet, the despair and impotence so many of us are feeling right now are exactly why this year's elections — and particularly the presidential race — have been touted as one of the most obvious tools to create change. Erin Corbett,, "Is There A Moral Argument Against Voting? For Some People, Yes," 29 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'impotence.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of impotence

15th century, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for impotence

Time Traveler

The first known use of impotence was in the 15th century

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Statistics for impotence

Last Updated

12 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Impotence.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for impotence


im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pə-təns How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Kids Definition of impotence

: the quality or state of lacking power or strength


im·​po·​tence | \ ˈim-pət-ən(t)s How to pronounce impotence (audio) \

Medical Definition of impotence

1 : the quality or state of not being potent drug-resistant bacteria are a virulent indicator of the growing impotence of antibiotics
2 : an abnormal physical or psychological state of a male characterized by inability to engage in sexual intercourse because of failure to have or maintain an erection

called also erectile dysfunction

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